About Us

Women in every culture have ways of working together to stop violence. We honour these strengths.

 

Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic offers legal services and representation, trauma-informed counselling and multilingual interpretation to diverse women who have experienced violence. We cultivate women’s skills and resilience by fostering their safety, dignity and equality and we amplify women’s voices to create individual and collective change.  At the Clinic, the umbrella term “woman” recognizes that gender is self-identification that is not necessarily correspondent with assigned sex at birth. We recognize the complexity and diversity of gender and aim to be inclusive to people outside of and across the gender spectrum.

Since it was founded in 1985, the Clinic has assisted thousands of women through our direct services, advocacy efforts, legal reform, submissions and projects and programs.

 

Services

  • Legal help in family, immigration, criminal and sexual assault law
  • Therapeutic counselling, information and support through group-based and individual counselling programs from compassionate and skilled counselors, employing diverse and culturally appropriate methodologies
  • Multi-lingual interpretation and translation including over-the-phone interpretation (access to an interpreter in less than 60-seconds) and video remote interpreting through a Deaf interpreter.

We advocate for law reform and social changes that benefit women. We also provide professional development opportunities for service providers.

 

Strategic Priorities

  • Deepen Our Service Impact: Inspiring Expertise In Action
  • Drive Systems Change: Advancing Rights for Women
  • Develop Our Organizational Resilience: Building Leadership and Sustainability

Barbra Teena Schlifer

The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic was created in memory of Barbra Teena Schlifer.

Barbra was an idealistic young lawyer who was murdered in Toronto on the day of her call to the Bar of Ontario, April 11, 1980. She was returning home from celebrating this milestone when she was brutally sexually assaulted and killed in the basement stairwell of her apartment building.

Barbra’s death changed the lives of those who were close to her and they resolved to use her tragedy as a springboard for changing the world. Frances Rappaport and Patricia Ashby, who had once planned to be her law partners, decided to establish a clinic in Barbra’s honour to make the difference that Barbra had hoped to make as a lawyer.

In September 1985, the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic opened its doors at 188 Dupont Street in Toronto.

On April 11 of that same year the Mayor of Toronto, Art Eggleton, proclaimed April 11th Barbra Schlifer Day. It had been five years since her death.

The Clinic currently receives referrals from countless community-based agencies, as well as medical, legal and justice professionals, religious organizations and individuals concerned about violence against women.

History of the Clinic

Barbra Schlifer’s senseless death sent shock waves through Toronto and across the country.

Out of this terrible event, a new dream was born. Barbra’s friends (who were to be her law partners), Frances Rappaport and Patricia Ashby, established a clinic in her honour that would commemorate her life and make the difference that Barbra had hoped she would have as a lawyer.

Four women who ultimately became instrumental in opening the doors of the Clinic were Elizabeth Stewart, Jennifer Sunley, Helen LaFountaine and Mary Bruce Dauphinee. As months grew into years of visioning and planning, these four women never relented, never wavered and never lost sight of their ultimate goal.

On April 11, 1985, five years after Barbra’s death, then Mayor of Toronto, Arthur C. Eggleton proclaimed April 11th “Barbra Schlifer Day,” and in September 1985, the Clinic opened its doors at 188 Dupont Street in Toronto.

Initially, the Clinic provided a unique combination of free legal and counselling services for women who had experienced partner assault, child sexual abuse and sexual assault.  In 1987 an interpreter service for non-English speaking women who had experienced violence was introduced and since then the Clinic has added new programs and grown in both size and significance. In addition, the Clinic has become expert in a range of gender violence that includes but goes beyond domestic violence, partner assault, and child sexual abuse. Increasingly, we are active in such issues as forced marriage, honour-related violence, gender persecution from state perpetrators, as well as non-state actors in the international context.

Since February 1995, the Clinic’s major fundraising event has been “A Tribute to Friendship” (The Tribute).  In addition to raising funds, this annual special event helps the Clinic to enhance its public image, increase contact with its supporters, and provide public education.

To see more historical pictures, view our Historical  Photo Album on Facebook.

Mission & Vision

Mission

Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic offers legal services and representation, trauma-informed counselling and multilingual interpretation to diverse women who have experienced violence. We cultivate women’s skills and resilience by fostering their safety, dignity and equality and we amplify women’s voices to create individual and collective change. At the Clinic, the umbrella term “woman” recognizes that gender is self-identification that is not necessarily correspondent with assigned sex at birth. We recognize the complexity and diversity of gender and aim to be inclusive to people outside of and across the gender spectrum.

Vision Statement

Through the building of local and global partnerships, we envision a world where women live free from violence. We are committed to working alongside communities to create autonomy and self-determination for women, informed by their diverse experiences, needs, and choices.

 

Belief Statements

 

We believe:

  1.  Violence against women means any act of violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering that may include financial, structural, and institutional abuse to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.
  2.  Violence against women happens in all cultures. It is based on an abuse of power, results in inequality, and affects all relationships through the generations.
  3.  Diverse women and men globally have worked and will continue to work together to stop gender-based violence. We recognize, honour, value and cultivate the work that has come before us in our commitment to finding sustainable solutions in the present.

 

Value Statements

 We value:

 Anti-Oppression and Feminism

We are a trauma-informed, intersectional feminist organization. Our work is informed by diverse women’s movements and experiences and we support the struggles of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) and their achievements against oppression, colonialism, racism and other forms of discrimination.

 Compassion

Our work is rooted in compassion, viewing the world from multiple perspectives.

 Self-Awareness

Our work is grounded in a reflective practice that continually examines power imbalances and builds our collective awareness and ability to work towards equitable responses and solutions.

 Partnerships and Networks

We work in partnership with local, national and global movements to amplify diverse women’s voices against systemic and structural oppression.

 Autonomy and Self-Determination

We respect and promote women’s autonomy to make the choices that are best for them as we support them in their journey to freedom from violence.

 

Board of Directors

Board of Directors

  • Sarah Whitmore, (President) – Senior Associate, Torys LLP
  • Mel Hogg, (Vice-President) –  Senior Vice President People & Culture and Labour Relations
  • Anna Matas (Secretary) – Senior Lawyer at Gillian Hnatiw & Co.
  • Sharon Tse, (Treasurer) – Practice Inspection, Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario

Members At Large

  • Angela Chaisson – Angela Chaisson Law
  • Elaine Goulbourne – Director, Clinical Resources at Women’s College Hospital
  • Tamara Huggins – Investigator, Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
  • Rosemarie Juginovic – Deputy Crown Attorney
  • Jeanette Manguiat – Director of Human Resources and Administration, YWCA Toronto
  • Sonja Pavic – Associate, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
  • Alena Thouin – Deputy General Counsel & Corporate Secretary Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario
  • Hilda Wong – Senior VP, General Counsel, Chief Privacy Officer and Chief Anti-Money Laundering Officer
  • Saba Zia – Senior Counsel, RBC

Join our Board of Directors. Download an application form or please contact [email protected] to begin the process.

Annual Reports

Our annual reports give us the opportunity to share what we are doing and the difference our work is having in the lives of the women who come to us for assistance.

In addition, our financial reports demonstrate the most responsible way we use the money afforded to us, to do our work. None of what we do, and hope to do, would be possible without the resources provided by people like you. The work we do is far greater than what we can include in any single report.

We are committed to transparency.  For more detailed information on how we use the funds you generously donate, please either view our Audited Financial Statements below or visit our page on the Canada Revenue Agency site.

2020/2021 Audited Financial Report

Archive

2019/2020

Annual Report | Financial Statements

2018/2019

Annual Report | Financial Statements

2017/2018

Annual Report | Financial Statements

2016/2017

Annual Report | Financial Statements

2015/2016

Annual Report | Financial Statements

2014/2015

Annual Report | Financial Statements

2013/2014

Annual Report | Financial Statements

2012/2013

Annual Report | Financial Statements

2011/2012

Annual Report | Financial Statements

2010/2011

Annual Report | Financial Statements

spirit of schlifer campaign image

We need your support

Our doors are open to women experiencing violence during COVID-19. Please join our partners and help us raise $180,000+.